Mikhail Trepashkin

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Mikhail Ivanovich Trepashkin (Russian: Михаи́л Ива́нович Трепа́шкин) (born 7 April 1957) is a Moscow attorney and former Federal Security Service colonel who was invited by MP Sergei Kovalev to assist in an independent inquiry of the Russian apartment bombings in September 1999 that followed the Dagestan war and were one of the causes of the Second Chechen War.

Career in FSB[edit]

Mikhail Trepashkin started working in KGB in 1984 as an investigator of underground trade in stolen art. At the beginning of 1990s Trepashkin moved to Internal Affairs department of FSB where he worked for Nikolai Patrushev. He investigated connections of FSB officers with criminal groups. He won a medal for intercepting a plane-load of weapons sold by FSB officers to Chechen rebels.[1]

In 1995, Trepashkin got involved in the Bank Soldi affair. The situation is described by Scott Anderson in his 2009 GQ article. Trepashkin was working on an FSB sting operation against a bank extortion ring linked to Salman Raduyev, a Chechen rebel who was then fighting against Russia in the First Chechen War. The sting resulted in a raid on a Bank Soldi branch in Moscow in Dec 1995. Trepashkin claims that the raid uncovered bugging devices used by the extortionists, whose serial numbers linked their origin to the FSB or Ministry of Defense. Furthermore, a van outside the bank was monitoring the bugging devices, and in this van was an FSB agent, who Trepashkin claims was working for the criminals. His name was Vladimir Romanovich. However, most of those arrested in the sting were released. Nikolai Patrushev took Trepashkin off the case, and began an investigation of him instead.[2]

In 1997 Trepashkin wrote a letter to Yeltsin attempting to bring light to the case and corruption in the FSB. He resigned from the FSB, sued FSB leadership (he won), and got a job with the tax police.[3]

At a press conference on 17 November 1998 Alexander Litvinenko, Victor Shebalin and few other members of FSB claimed to have received an order to kill Boris Berezovsky and Mikhail Trepashkin. The group members claimed that the order came from an FSB department called URPO, the Division of Operations against Criminal Organizations.[1][4]

Investigation of Russian apartment bombings and imprisonment[edit]

Mikhail Trepashkin was invited by MP Sergei Kovalev to assist in an independent inquiry of the Russian apartment bombings. Two sisters whose mother was killed in one of the houses hired Trepashkin to represent them in the trial of two Russian Muslims accused of transporting explosives for the bombings.[5]

While preparing for the trial Trepashkin claims he uncovered a trail of a suspect whose description had disappeared from the files. He claimed that the man turned out to be an FSB member named Vladimir Romanovich, the same man he claimed had been working for criminals in the Moscow Bank Soldi raid of 1995.[6] Trepashkin said that a witness identified only the first of the 2 composite images distributed by the official investigation. This implied that the official investigation doctored the composite image to hide the perpetrators from the FSB.[7] But Trepashkin never managed to air his findings in court. On October 22, 2003, just a week before the hearings, Trepashkin was arrested for illegal arms possession. He was convicted by a closed military court to four years for illegal arms possession, for revealing state secrets and for abuse of the office.[8] An appeal court later overturned the arms possession charge, but the other sentence remained. In September 2005 after serving two years of his sentence, Trepashkin was released on parole, but two weeks later was re-arrested after the State appealed the parole decision.[9]

Trepashkin investigated a letter attributed to Achemez Gochiyayev and found that the alleged Gochiyayev's assistant who arranged the delivery of sacks might have been vice-president of Kapstroi-2000 Kormishin, originally from Vyazma.[10]

Mikhail Trepashkin suffered from asthma with bronchial attacks on a daily basis, itching dermatosis and pain in the area of his heart, and he needed medical treatment. However, he told Amnesty International that he was denied medical treatment, held in a freezing punishment cell, and transported with imprisoned tuberculosis patients who "were coughing right into your face because they were unable to either cover their mouths or turn away."[11]

On November 30, 2007 Mikhail Trepashkin was freed with the expiration of his four-year prison term.[12]

Western press coverage[edit]

The case of Mikhail Trepashkin caught the attention of the Western press,[13] caused an uproar among human rights campaigners,[14][15][16][17][18] was put on record by Amnesty International, mentioned by the US State Department [19] and featured in an award-winning documentary Disbelief.[20] The documentary was funded by anti-Kremlin oligarch Boris Berezovsky.[21]

American war correspondent Scott Anderson wrote a story about his interviews with Trepashkin for the September 2009 issue of the GQ magazine. However, according to NPR's David Folkenflik, Conde Nast management gave orders to limit circulation of the story. These included banning the story off of GQ's website, not showing the US issue to "Russian government officials, journalists or advertisers", not publishing the story in any overseas Conde Nast magazines, not publicizing the story, and asking Anderson to not syndicate it 'to any publications that appear in Russia'.[22][23]

Involvement in Alexander Litvinenko affair[edit]

In a letter from prison Trepashkin alleged that in 2002 FSB decided to kill Alexander Litvinenko. He also claimed that FSB had plans to kill relatives of Litvinenko in Moscow in 2002, although these have not been carried out.[24][25]

Trepashkin claimed that supervisors and people from the FSB promised not to send him to the prison if only he leaves the Sergei Kovalev commission and start working with the FSB "against Litvinenko" [26]

After the imprisonment[edit]

Mikhail Trepashkin continues to his work as a lawyer and participates in human rights activism.

In 2008-10 Trepashkin defended Yulia Privedennaya, leader of the organization "F.A.K.E.L.-P.O.R.T.O.S.", whom the authorities accused of creating an illegal armed formation and then decided to put in hospital for mental examination.,[27][28]

In March 2010 Trepashkin signed the online anti-Putin manifesto of the Russian opposition "Putin must go".

Family life[edit]

Trepashkin is married for the second time. He has two young children and a son from the first marriage.[citation needed]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Alex Goldfarb and Marina Litvinenko. "Death of a Dissident: The Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the Return of the KGB." Free Press, New York, 2007. ISBN 978-1-4165-5165-2.
  2. ^ Anderson, Scott (September 2009). "None Dare Call it Conspiracy". GQ (Gentlemen's Quarterly): 250, 312. 
  3. ^ Anderson, None Dare..., p 250
  4. ^ (Russian)Who is Mikhail Trepashkin and why the powers persecute the former FSB investigator, The Case of Defence Lawyer Trepashkin, Public Committee to Protect Mikhail Trepashkin, October 10, 2007, computer translation
  5. ^ http://eng.trepashkin.ru/court/81282.html
  6. ^ Anderson, Scott (Sep 2009). "None Dared Call it Conspiracy". GQ: 312. . Anderson discusses the police sketches, Romanovich, the 1995 bank raid, and Trepashkin's claims
  7. ^ Chicago Tribune Follows Trepashkin's Lead, PRIMA-News, May 19, 2004 with a re-print of Verdict near on sleuth who talked too much; Ex-KGB agent suspects a former cohort was involved in a bombing blamed on Chechens. He was jailed just before he was to present his case, by Alex Rodriguez, Chicago Tribune, May 18, 2004
  8. ^ Russian Ex-Agent's Sentencing Called Political, Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times, May 20, 2004
  9. ^ http://eng.trepashkin.ru/press/95348.html
  10. ^ (Russian)Tenth anniversary of the "black autumn" in Russia, Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr. interviews Mikhail Trepashkin and others, Radio Liberty, September 4, 2009, computer translation
  11. ^ http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/EUR46/014/2006/en/32d30e80-d444-11dd-8743-d305bea2b2c7/eur460142006en.html
  12. ^ http://www.lenta.ru/news/2007/11/30/free/
  13. ^ http://www.eng.terror99.ru/publications/#trepashkin
  14. ^ http://eng.terror99.ru/publications/151.htm
  15. ^ Human Rights First - call for action
  16. ^ International Commission of Jurists - Trepashkin statement
  17. ^ Text of D.C. Bar International Law Section letter
  18. ^ Amnesty International appeal
  19. ^ http://eng.trepashkin.ru/reaction/80577.html
  20. ^ http://www.disbelief-film.com/
  21. ^ http://eng.terror99.ru/publications/149.htm
  22. ^ Folkenflik, David (2009-09-04). "Why 'GQ' Doesn't Want Russians To Read Its Story". Retrieved 2009-09-04. 
  23. ^ Anderson, Scott (September 2009). "None Dare Call it Conspiracy". GQ (Gentlemen's Quarterly): 246. 
  24. ^ (Russian)"М. Трепашкин: "Создана очень серьезная группа"". Chechen Press State News Agency. 1 December 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-12-19. Retrieved 2006-12-01. 
  25. ^ (Russian)"Березовский и УРПО / дело Литвиненко". "Агентура.Ру". November 27, 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-30. 
  26. ^ Interview with Mikhail Trepashkin, RFE/RL, December 1, 2007. Russian: "давай вместе работать против Литвиненко и уйди из комиссии по взрывам домов и тогда тебя никто не тронет. Я говорил со своими шефами, совершенно точно, тебя не тронут. Кончай с Ковалевым Сергеем Адамовичем контактировать в Госдуме и так далее."
  27. ^ Yulia Privedennaya on the site Political Prisoners (in Russian)
  28. ^ Activist pronounced "sane", trial continues. Amnesty International. 20 April 2010

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